Belfast Telegraph

East Belfast community horrified at sinister cat poisoning letter

By Cate McCurry

Pet owners say they are disgusted at a sinister letter sent to a woman informing her that her missing pet cat had been intentionally poisoned.

Dog owners are also worried that their pets could be next.

Residents were left horrified after Anne Caughey was told that her five-year-old ginger tom Henry had been a victim of a campaign to sort out the "cat problems" in east Belfast.

Trish Nicholl was one of the many neighbours who received a leaflet in January from Ms Caughey about her missing cat. She placed it on her fridge as a reminder to look for out it.

However, after learning of what she described as the "threatening letter", the animal lover is now concerned for her two small Jack Russell dogs.

The letter was sent to three other neighbours who have cats and were told that the "cat problem" in Dundonald was going to be "sorted".

It was claimed that local residents employed this person because cats "roam free, fouling other people's gardens, spreading disease" and added how they would put down "bait" which would poison and kill the cat instantly.

The letter was signed off with the words "best wishes" and "sincerely".

"We are all quite disgusted at this, no one can believe it," said Ms Nicholl.

"As a pet owner it really worries me because my dogs could eat it and they are only small things. There are a few cats about but I only notice them when the dogs bark at them.

The cats never bother us anyway, I love pets. When I read it I thought, that poor lady, what a horrible thing to do.

"Where do you stop when someone takes these things in to their own hands? It must be some nut case."

Trevor Rainey, a resident in Mawhinney Park, said that while there are a few families with pet cats, it has never been a problem.

He said: "I see the cats from time to time playing around or climbing over my garage to get to the hedge at the other side but they don't bother me. A couple of the neighbours own pigeons and I don't think the cats annoy them either.

"What that person has done is just cruel and when you have animals you just can't think of doing things like that especially to someone else's pet."

East Belfast MP Naomi Long described the letter as "disturbing" and said she is seeking a meeting with police.

"I have dealt with a number of constituents who have reported missing cats and to think they may have fallen prey to someone poisoning them is horrific," she said.

"These are innocent animals and someone's pet. To treat them as vermin and of no consequence is appalling and illegal."

Background

The sinister letter was sent to four cat owners, including Anne Caughey, in east Belfast warning them that a "cat problem in Dundonald" was going to be "sorted". The letter writer described in graphic detail how the "bait" would poison the cat and kill it. It also warned recipients to ensure their cats did not leave their house or garden or they would become victim to the poison.

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